Final Report of Justice K.T. Thomas Committee
constituted by the Supreme Court

Part I

The Background:

In the judgment passed by the Supreme Court of India in the above Writ Petition, delivered on 22.09.2006, seven directives were issued to the Central Government and State Governments (including the Union Territories), for compliance towards reforming the functioning of the Police in India. The seven directives, in brief, mandated:

  1. Constitution of a State Security Commission in every State as a watchdog body to oversee the functioning of the police, with its recommendations being binding on the State Government.
  2. Selection of the State Director General of Police from out of a panel prepared by UPSC, and provision for a minimum tenure of two years for the DGP so selected, irrespective of his date of superannuation, except under circumstances specified in the directive.
  3. A minimum two year tenure for other police officers (Zonal IGPs, Range DIGs, District Superintendents of Police and Station House Officers), except under specified circumstances.
  4. Separation of investigation from law and order, duly ensuring full coordination between the two wings.
  5. Creation of Police Establishment Boards to deal with transfers, postings and other service-related matters of police officers, including disposal of their appeals on being subjected to illegal or irregular orders.
  6. Constitution of Police Complaints Authorities at the State and District levels to look into complaints against police officers.
  7. Constitution of a National Security Commission at the Union level to prepare panels for selection of Chiefs of Central Police Organisations and to review measures to upgrade their effectiveness, etc.

2. Out of these seven directives, the first six were meant for the State Governments, while the seventh directive related to the Central Government.

3. The deadline of 31st December, 2006 was fixed initially by the Supreme Court for compliance of these directives

4. Later, the Supreme Court, by an Order dated 16.05.2008, set up this Committee (hereinafter referred to as “the Committee”) to monitor the implementation of the above directives by the Governments.

Terms of Reference of the Committee

The terms of the Committee’s work were set out in the aforementioned order, as follows:

  1. To examine the affidavits filed by the different States and the Union Territories in compliance to the Court’s directions with reference to the ground realities.
  2. Advise the respondents wherever the implementation is falling short of the Court’s orders, after considering the respondents’ stated difficulties in implementation.
  3. Bring to the notice of the Court any genuine problems the respondents may be having in view of the specific conditions prevailing in a State or Union Territory.
  4. Examine the new legislations enacted by different States regarding the police to see whether these are in compliance with the letter and spirit of this Court’s directions.
  5. Apprise the Court about unnecessary objections or delays on the part of any respondent so that appropriate follow up action could be taken against that respondent.
  6. Submit a status report on compliance to this Court every six months.

Interim Reports of the Committee

6. The Committee held several sittings at New Delhi and elsewhere in the States. Four interim reports of the Committee have already been field before the Supreme Court – the first report is dated 20.10.2008, the second report dated 02.05.2009, the third one dated 15.09.2009 and the fourth report is dated 19.12.2009. Copies of these interim reports are placed at Annexure-VII.

Part II
Methodology of Work adopted by the Committee

Study of the available material

7. The Committee, to begin with, decided to study all the available documents, including the affidavits filed by the Central and State Governments before the Supreme Court from time to time, after obtaining the same from the Registry of the Supreme Court. It also decided to take stock of the New Police Acts legislated by some of the States, in order to review as to whether or not they conformed to the Supreme Court guidelines on the subject. All these documents were surveyed by the Committee in detail.

8. The Committee availed itself of the services of Shri P. Venugopal, former Administrative Officer of the National Police Academy for compiling (i) the information contained in the affidavits submitted by the Governments, (ii) the relevant provisions of the new police legislations passed by some States and (iii) the contents of the executive orders passed by the remaining State Governments in compliance of the Supreme Court directives. He did the work very exhaustively. The Committee was very much benefited by his work.

Seeking updates from the States

9. The Committee also decided to obtain factual updates from the Governments regarding the latest state of implementation of the directives. For this purpose, the Chairman of the Committee addressed, on 26.11.2008, individual letters to the Chief Ministers of all the States as also the Union Home Minister, seeking information from them in two different proformas, one from the States which had passed new Police legislations, and the other from those States/ UTs that had sought to implement the directives through other available mechanisms, such as passing executive orders.

10. The responses to these letters varied from State to State, both in terms of time taken to respond and regarding the sufficiency of information provided.

Other Inputs received by the Committee

11. The Committee also permitted civil society organizations which were willing to make any submission, to do so during its sittings and the response was, by and large, good. The Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) was the main among such organizations whose representatives attended practically all the sittings and presented detailed submissions, including elaborate analysis of the status of implementation of the directives by the States, both in writing and orally. As the petitioner in the Writ Petition, Shri Prakash Singh, expressed his willingness to assist the Committee with his views, we permitted him to do so. On behalf of a movement called “Centre for Criminal Justice Research”, Dr. P.J. Alexander, former DGP, Kerala State, presented a “Draft Kerala Police Bill”, prepared by his organization in consultation with Mr. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, former Judge of the Supreme Court of India. It was claimed that the said draft would comply with all the directives issued by the Supreme Court in Prakash Singh case. The Committee forwarded the same to the Home Minister of Kerala State for follow up action as deemed appropriate by the State Government.

Second round of letters to Chief Ministers

All the information available to the Committee, relating to the status of implementation of Supreme Court directives, including that received from the State Governments, was thoroughly analysed to assess the level of compliance of the directives by them. A second round of letters was thereafter issued to Chief Ministers of the States which had not passed legislations, pointing out the deviations and deficiencies in the executive orders issued by their governments in the implementation of the Supreme Court directives. The response to these letters was also, however, indifferent.

Ground verification of compliance

13. For checking the ground realities of implementation, the Committee felt that this was a province which required detailed enquiry and consideration. At the same time, visiting all the 28 States and 7 Union Territories would be an uphill task besides being highly time consuming. The Committee felt that in the short time now available before the expiry of its term of two years, it would be impossible for it to visit all the States and UTs. As a feasible course, it, therefore, decided to choose one State each from the four different zones of the country for sample verification of ground-level compliance. The States so chosen were: Maharashtra (West Zone), Uttar Pradesh (North Zone), Karnataka (South Zone) and West Bengal (East Zone), all of which in the Committee’s assessment were also defaulters, besides being populous. Accordingly, two members of the Committee visited these four States.

Representation addressed to the Committee by one Narersh Kumar and two others

14. During its last meeting held at Kochi on 15-16.07.2010, the Committee received a representation dated 15.06.2010 signed by one Shri Naresh Kumar and two other individuals, handed over in person to Smt. Meera Hemant, Secretary to the Committee, which quoted the following order dated 23.04.2010 of the Supreme Court in a petition filed by those petitioners:

“The petitioner would be at liberty to approach the Commission by way of a representation and raise grievances, if any, mentioned in the Writ Petition with a copy to learned Amicus Curiae. With these observations, the Writ Petition is dismissed as withdrawn”.

15. After perusing the relevant averments and the prayers contained in the representation, it appeared to the Committee that the relief sought by the petitioners entails modification of the original directives of the Supreme Court issued in Prakash Singh case, on 22.09.2006. As such the matter falls outside the ambit of this Committee’s work.

Part III
Approach of the Committee to its Terms of Reference

16. The Committee adopted the following approach in dealing with the various Terms of Reference set out by the Supreme Court’s Order dated 16.05.2008:

  • As for Term of Reference No.1, namely, to examine the affidavits of the States vis-à-vis the ground realities, the Committee, as mentioned above, decided to choose only one State each from the four geographical zones of the country. The Chairman addressed letters to the Chief Ministers of those four States, calling for the requisite information regarding the status of ground level implementation of Supreme Court directives, in a proforma, and also requesting them to render all assistance to the members of the Committee visiting the States.
  • On the second term of reference, namely, advising the States in which the implementation was falling short of the Court’s directives, after considering the respondents’ stated difficulties in implementation, the Chairman wrote letters to the Chief Ministers (referred to as the second round of letters in para 12 above), pointing out the deficiencies / deviations in implementation and advising them to rectify the same. (Copies of these letters are placed at Annexure-VI). Advices tendered through these letters were on the following broad lines:
    • To those States which had not fully complied with the directives (while claiming full compliance at the same time) but had not expressed any specific difficulty in doing so, the Committee pointed out the areas of deviations and advised the Chief Ministers concerned to cover up the areas of such deviations / shortfalls.
    • To the States which had drafted the proposed legislations purportedly in compliance with the directives but had yet to complete the legislative process, the Committee attempted to persuade their governments to ensure immediate compliance, in the interim, at least through issuing executive orders.
    • To the States which had issued executive orders peripherally short of fully complying with the directives, the Committee informed the Chief Ministers that the executive orders issued by their governments purporting to comply with the Supreme Court directives would have to be interpreted in the same manner as intended by the court, and that it was on the said presumption that the Committee was choosing to refrain from treating such States as defaulters in complying with the directives.
    • To those States which showed major areas of non-compliance, while still reiterating their objections already mentioned in their earlier affidavits filed in the Supreme Court, the Committee took the view that such objections had already been considered by the Supreme Court and rejected. We, therefore, advised the Chief Ministers of such States to comply with the directives forthwith.
  • Regarding the third term of reference, namely, to bring to the notice of the Court any genuine problems of the respondents in view of any specific conditions, the Committee reported some such problems which came to its notice, in its Second Report submitted to the Supreme Court, dated 02.05.2009. A more detailed account of such problems as highlighted by the States, is given in Part Four of this report.
  • As for the fourth term of reference, namely, to examine the new legislations to see whether they are in compliance with the Directives, in the Committee’s view the said term is one of reporting function, particularly in view of the following observation of the Supreme Court in the main judgment in Prakash Singh case:“The decision in Vineet Narain’s case notes various decisions of this Court where guidelines and directions to be observed were issued in the absence of legislation and implemented till the legislatures passed appropriate legislations”. The Committee found that as many as 12 States had passed new police legislations. It examined all those legislations. The assessment made by the Committee on these new police legislations passed by those 12 States is included in Annexure II of this report.
  • Regarding the fifth term of reference, i.e., to apprise the Court about unnecessary objections or delays on the part of any State, the Committee’s findings are detailed in Part Five of this report.

Part IV
States’ Stated Difficulties in Implementation of Directives

17. The Committee would now highlight the following areas of concern/ difficulties generic to most of the States, as pointed out by most of the state governments. The Committee’s own assessment on each of these issues is also mentioned alongside:

  • Implementation of the Directive to involve UPSC in the empanelment process (for the post of DGP) is beyond the scope and authority of the state governments. The Committee has already reported this matter to the Supreme Court in its second interim report. The Committee is since given to understand that this issue has now become a subject matter of an interlocutory application pending before the Supreme Court in the main Writ Petition.
  • Regarding the direction to provide a minimum tenure of two years to DGP, irrespective of the date of superannuation, the state governments projected their inability in its implementation on the ground that the said subject belongs to the domain of the All India Service Rules, which are framed by the Union Government. The Supreme Court may examine this issue.
  • The management of IPS Cadre in some of the small States, like Goa, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, is administered through a Joint Cadre Authority under the Union Home Ministry. Thus, the state government in such States cannot, on their own, fully comply with the Directive to accord minimum tenure to the officers (those belonging to IPS) and in the selection of DGP.
  • Practical difficulties were expressed by some of the states of smaller size for establishing separate district level Police Complaints Authorities, referred to in Directive No. 6 in the main judgment. According to those states, a single Authority at the state level would be good enough for all districts also. The Committee’s view is that looking at it from the governmental angle, this difficulty may look genuine in some cases. But people living in distant regions in the State, far away from the state capital, may find it difficult to voice their grievances by undertaking a journey to such capitals.
  • Some States, particularly Uttar Pradesh, put forward the view that the existing multiplicity of authorities for Police accountability (such as National Human Rights Commission, State Human Rights Commission, SC/ST Commission, Women’s Commission and Minorities Commission etc.) obviates the necessity of having one more separate mechanism for police accountability, in the form of Police Complaints Authority, envisaged in Directive No. 6. The civil society representatives, on the other hand, expressed the view that all those multiple authorities did not have binding powers and also that there was need to have a body solely focusing on police misconduct, as envisaged in the Supreme Court directive. It is for the Supreme Court to consider whether any further clarification is needed in the matter.
  • As for Directive No. 1 (establishment of State Security Commission - SSC), the Committee, in its second report, has already sought clarification of the Hon’ble Court on the variations in the composition of the Commission, between the recommendations of the Soli Sorabjee Committee and the text in the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgment, specifically on the issue of inclusion of a retired High Court Judge in the State Police Board / State Security Commission and so also the mention of DGP being as ex-officio Secretary and not Member Secretary of the State Police Board / State Security Commission.
  • Further, the Committee found that a common SSC has been set up for all the seven Union Territories including Delhi, with the Union Home Secretary as its Chairman. The Committee would urge the Supreme Court to clarify whether a separate SSC is required for each Union Territory.

Part V
Findings and Conclusions

18. Insofar as the implementation of the six specific Directives of the Supreme Court is concerned, the Committee has no hesitation in concluding that practically no State has fully complied with those Directives so far, in letter and spirit, despite the lapse of almost four years since the date of the original judgment. In the States, where new police legislations have not been enacted, the directions are purported to have been complied with by issuing executive orders but the contents of such executive orders clearly reflect dilution, in varying degrees, of the spirit, if not the letter, of the Court directives.

19. This is reflected by Annexure I which gives a snapshot of the actual levels of compliance in respect of each of the Supreme Court directives, by the States which have adopted the mechanism of issuing executive orders. Annexure II, which contains the Committee’s assessment of the relevant provisions of the new police legislations enacted by 12 States, reflects the same story.

20. In the executive orders issued by many States as well as in the new police legislations passed by some States, the composition of the State Security Commission (Directive No. 1) reflects deviation by way of exclusion of either the Leader of the Opposition or the judicial element or both. Even in the matter of the ratio between the official and non-official members, we noticed the numerical majority in many cases being kept in favour of officials over non-officials.

21. Regarding the selection of DGP (Directive No. 2), notwithstanding the afore-mentioned difficulty in involving the UPSC for empanelment of officers, most of the States have been sticking to the earlier-existing procedure of selection, without even laying down any merit-based, transparent criteria for the same. As for the tenure of DGP, most States have side-stepped the core of the Supreme Court directive.

22. The Committee observed that there was near uniformity among all the States in not following Directive No. 3, which relates to provision for a fixed tenure for certain categories of police officers, in the manner envisaged by the Supreme Court.

23. As for Directive No. 4 (separation of investigation from law & order), provision has, albeit, been made in the executive orders, in most of the States, but those remain only on paper so far. No concrete steps seem to have been taken to implement the directive on the ground level. Indeed, such separation would involve some augmentation of police manpower and this has been projected as a ‘difficulty’ by some state governments. Some others have, on the other hand, taken steps to sanction additional manpower and promised that the separation would be effectively implemented once the new manpower is in place after recruitment and training. For details, see Annexures I & II.

24. The Police Establishment Boards (Directive No. 5) have been created in most of the States but their effectiveness has been persistently questioned by the civil society groups in their representations made before the Committee. The ground-situation of transfers in the four States where sample checks were made by the Committee (UP, Maharashtra, Karnataka and West Bengal) was found to be suggestive of uncertainty of tenures in the transfers and postings of police officers (For details, see Annexures III, IV & V).

25. The Police Complaints Authorities (Directive No. 6) have not been created in most of the States so far (for details see Annexure I). Civil society groups have represented that even in the States which have claimed compliance to this directive, the said Authorities have yet to be put in place at the ground level.

26. Further, the Committee has noticed that some State Governments (for example, Tamilnadu) have introduced legislative Bills, purportedly in compliance of the Supreme Court’s directives, but while the Bills have yet to be passed by their Legislatures, in the executive orders issued by the State Governments in the interregnum, the provisions of even the proposed Bills have been diluted. Pending passage of the Bills by the Legislature, the State Governments may be asked by the Supreme Court to modify such executive orders to bring the same in accordance with their own proposed Bills, without further delay.

27. For checking of ground realities of implementation of the directives, the Committee, as stated earlier, took up the task in respect of four States located in four different geographical zones. The reports on this sample verification are placed in Annexure III (UP and Maharashtra), Annexure IV (Karnataka), and Annexure V (West Bengal). It can be seen from these Annexures that the level of compliance of the Supreme Court directives in these States is ranging from total non-compliance to partial or marginal compliance to mere paper implementation. The Supreme Court, to begin with, may, therefore, initiate action as deemed appropriate, against these States.

28. As for the remaining States, it is for the Supreme Court to decide on the course and modalities of such verification, to assess the exact level of compliance of the directives by them, before deciding on the action to be taken in respect of them.

29. In the end, the Committee, while reiterating its earlier observation about the indifferent response of most of the State Governments, in spite of the letters and reminders addressed to the Chief Ministers personally by the Chairman, would like to express its dismay over the total indifference to the issue of reforms in the functioning of Police being exhibited by the States.

30. Proper functioning of police forces is crucial for the rule of law to prevail in any society. It is also a critical requisite for ensuring the Fundamental Rights of the people enshrined and guaranteed under our Constitution. The indifference of the State Governments to the issue of police reforms and non-compliance of the Directives of the Supreme Court in this regard, despite the tenacious efforts made by the Committee within the boundaries of its limited mandate, have to be viewed in that perspective.

(Justice K.T.Thomas)

(Kamal Kumar) (Dharmendra Sharma)
Member Member

Justice Verma Committee

Justice J.S. Verma Committee, which was constituted in the wake of the brutal gang rape in Delhi on December 16, 2012,submitted a comprehensive report on Amendments to Criminal Law. The Committee regretted that “the Supreme Court’s judgment of 2006 in Prakash Singh’s case giving certain directions for the autonomy and improving the quality of the police force remain to be implemented by all the governments” and emphasized that “action in this behalf does not brook any further delay”. In Chapter XII of the Report, which deals exclusively with Police Reforms, the Committee expressed the view that “ensuring full compliance with this judgment across all of India is of utmost priority to national welfare; including the welfare of women and children and towards the weaker sections of the community”, and urged “all states to fully comply with all six Supreme Court directives in order to tackle systemic problems in policing which exist today”. It further made the following observations:

“We believe that if the Supreme Court’s directions in Prakash Singh are implemented, there will be a crucial modernization of the police to be service oriented for the citizenry in a manner which is efficient, scientific, and consistent with human dignity.”